‘Make Sure You Buy a Good Plunger:’ Life Advice for My Daughters

It has been five years of ups and downs as my kids traveled the bumpy road of the college years – changing schools, changing majors, changing dorms, changing roommates, changing clubs and sports, and the list goes on. After each semester or year of change, what has remained the same is that they both came back home.

I knew that eventually these strong, independent women would move out and be on their own, but I guess I didn’t realize just how soon after college graduation that would happen, and coming back home would not be predicted by the college calendar any more.

Adult daughter kissing mother on cheek
I wanted to impart wisdom as my daughters prepared to leave home but failed! (Twenty20 @Cheggy)

My daughters are both moving away from home for new jobs

Both of my daughters are starting amazing jobs in the coming weeks, using the knowledge and experiences they have gained through their schooling and summer jobs. They will be moving several hours away, in opposite geographical directions of course, to begin their professional journeys.

I have lain awake at night over the last few weeks thinking about the exact right thing I was going to say to my younger daughter, since she is the first one leaving home, a few days before her older sister. I want her to know how much she’s loved and how proud I am of her, and all that mushy stuff. 

Do I write her a letter and stash it in one of her packed bags for her to find when she gets settled? Nah, based on the amount of unopened gear that came back from her dorm life, I’d pour my heart out and she’d never find it, along with the dryer sheets she doesn’t use. Do I send her a text? Nah, it would need to include an offer for Uber Eats or an Insta of a cute bunny for it to definitely get opened. So I’m thinking, I’m thinking….

The advice that came out of mom’s mouth was make sure you buy a good plunger

We surveyed the pile of blue bags and taped-up boxes that have been slowing filling the living room the past few weeks, and went through the last few items in her room. As we were talking about a few things she may still have to do or get, what came out of my mouth, instead of the ‘Go get ‘em!’ message, apparently, was plumbing advice: “Make sure you buy a good plunger!”

Yup. To not buy a cheap plunger, but to get a heavy duty one. 

When all I could do to not become a blithering disaster was to talk about plunger purchasing. Where was my, “I love you so much, I’m going to miss you so much” speech? 

But that’s par for the course today, because earlier this morning I was re-nesting…similar to the intense house cleaning you undertake in the days before your baby is born, I was scrubbing the front door with the magic white sponge, wax-on, wax-off style, ridding the door of smudges that have likely been there for at least five years. Okay, maybe ten years. Is cleaning because your kids are leaving a thing? 

So today it seems I’m scrubbing. And giving plumbing advice. During the last few hours she’d ever be living in my house before moving out to start adulting, I’m ‘karate-kiding’ my front door. My younger daughter finds me sitting and scrubbing and asks if she can help. I thanked her and said, “I think I’m beyond help, sweetie!”

I didn’t plan to clean. Or give random plumbing advice. I am truly so happy for my kids to have finished school and to be leaving the nest to start their careers – isn’t that what we have been preparing them for, for the past twenty-something years? 

The life advice I gave my daughter

Get a good plunger – I hope you have great experiences and take advantage of new opportunities. 

Get a good plunger – I hope you have everything you need, literally and figuratively, to solve problems.

Get a good plunger – Make good choices, like Jamie Lee Curtis says, and stay healthy and safe. 

Get a good plunger – I hope you find your ‘people’ and have a caring circle of friends and colleagues.

I was scrubbing instead of crying, because I also didn’t plan to cry, but that only lasted until she was ready to go to bed for her ‘last sleep’ before moving out. Add ugly crying to my list of accomplishments for today.

As I got ready for bed and closed the front door, which was now mostly smudge-less thanks to my earlier random, emotional, scrubbing situation, I realized that this is a new beginning for me, too. It will be very different not having my kids living here or automatically coming back after a semester ends.

Just as they will be living their new best lives, I will find my people, have new experiences, problem solve and make healthy choices. 

And, I might just go buy a new plunger to mark the occasion. 

More Great Reading:

Eyebrows: There Should Be 2 and 24 Other Bits of Advice For Daughters

About Randee Bonagura

Randee Bonagura has two Grown and Flying daughters and is an elementary school administrator on Long Island. She stewards a Little Free Library, plays clarinet in a local ensemble, and loves to read and travel.

Read more posts by Randee

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